Five Things to Do When You’re Stuck on the Promotion Treadmill
If your company is in a very price-competitive industry segment, you are probably stuck on the promotion treadmill. On the promotion treadmill, every day is another set of promotions, you are forced to send emails more and more often to help make sales goals, and every email screams a discount. You're probably tired of hearing all the best-practice advocates telling you to jump off the treadmill and send lifecycle emails for engagement. Even if you think they have a point, that's not your decision to make. Your job is to move the needle on sales while still sending out the constant hail of promotions.
Here are five things to try when you have no choice about sending whole-house promotions, and you need to improve your results:
- Stories. Because pathos sells. No matter what your product is, some customer has a moving, overly-emotional story to tell about how they used it. Find just one of those stories and use it in your next email. I had an ecommerce client see a measured lift of 34% in revenue per email vs their control from this technique. That was a big impact for them. Plus, "50% OFF THE PRODUCT SHE USED TO MAKE HER DAD CRY TEARS OF JOY" positioned next to the story that goes with that headline will break up the monotony of just screaming "50% OFF" all the time. The nice thing about a story is that it fits just as well with a whole house promotion as it does with a product- or category-specific promotion.
- Testimonials. Let your customers sell for you. Even if it isn't as involved as a sweet little pathos-ridden sob-story, you probably have a customer or two saying something nice about your products. Find those gems and put a few – with the visual of the five stars of course – in your email design. This technique is especially useful when you are doing a product-specific sale. It is a bit harder to pull off when you are trying to promote whole-house, but it can be done. It just won’t have quite as much impact on revenue per email.
- Segmentation. Make some of your emails smarter. I think batch-and-blast can be a good thing, in moderation. The same goes for segmentation. Segmentation doesn’t mean you can’t send everyone on your list an email. It just means that some of those emails are smarter and more tailored to your audience. So if you are a pet store and you have a promotion for 30% off fish stuff, chances are you will get better results if you tailor your message to prior fish product purchasers, and send them something very specific. The rest of your file should also get the fish promotion, but with a different message. After all, you don’t know who has just picked up a new hobby, or always had a few scaly friends but hasn’t bought from you yet. One client saw this kind of segmentation drive double the revenue per email. The results are worth it.
- Data. It pays for itself. Data goes hand in hand with segmentation. Depending on what you sell, there are probably a couple of data points that you don’t have, that would make your segmentation really pop. It can be worthwhile to buy this data and apply it to your database. Carve out some budget for testing, because this could be a huge results driver for you.
- Creative. Catch their eye with a new look. Creative wear-out is real and it does impact results more than you might realize. Refresh your templates once a year at least, and more often depending on how many templates you have and how often you mail your list. In between template refreshes, consider occasionally playing with the elements of the template. Animated gifs, images extending beyond typical template limits, video in email, scratch-offs and other dynamic image gimmicks work very well. Animated gifs are especially cost-effective, but judicious use of the others can be ROI-positive as well. And if your brand permits it, jazzing up your logo occasionally or breaking the template limits in other ways can be fun for your customers and drive incremental engagement.
The promotion treadmill isn’t fun, but if you’re stuck then there are ways to make it more entertaining. What other techniques have you used to freshen up the promotions when you can’t just make them stop?